15-year-old dies of peanut allergy an hour after eating cookie, grieving mother shares heart-rending warning
A Florida mom is warning others with food allergies after her teen daughter reportedly died from a reaction to a cookie she had at a friend’s house
A teenager lost her life after making a simple mistake while at her friend's house, and now her devastated mother has issued a heartfelt warning for all whom it may concern. 15-year-old Alexi Ryann Stafford was safeguarded all her life by her parents who made sure she never went near any peanuts owing to her allergic condition. Her parents taught her what was safe to consume, and what products were dangerous for her.
However, last month, Alexi, who hails from Florida, spotted an open packet of biscuits on the table at her friend's house. Having consumed the red packaging of the 'Chips Ahoy' brand cookies previously, she thought they were safe and thus grabbed a bite.
But Alexi did not notice that it was actually a different variant of the cookies as the packaging was folded back. These biscuits included Reese Peanut Butter Cups chips for a different flavor. The 15-year-old immediately felt her tongue begin to tingle and so she rushed home. Upon learning the symptoms, her parents gave her two epi pens.
Tragically, the antidote did not work and young Alexi went into an Anaphylactic shock. She ceased to breathe and fell unconscious. An hour after eating the cookie, she was pronounced dead.
Kellie, Alexi's mother, posted a heart-rending warning for other parents whose children suffer from the allergy, urging them to make sure their children always check the packaging of any product thoroughly.
Her Facebook post read: "Our hearts are broken and we are still in shock. Our whole lives we dedicated to keeping our child safe from one ingredient, peanuts. On Monday, June 25, our 15-year-old daughter, Alexi Ryann Stafford, while at a friends house, made a fatal choice. I want to share our story with everyone because we want to spread awareness."
Concerned friends and family have set up a GoFundMe page in order to raise money for her family. You can click here to donate.
The page says: "A kind, old soul – Alexi overcame extraordinary challenges throughout the last couple of years; yet her incredible strength, determination, and support of her family created the confidence for Alexi to feel comfortable with herself and excited for the future ahead of her.
"To know Alexi was to know compassion…was to know love in the purest form. To know Alexi was to be transported into a world of pureness and peace. She embodied the person we could all only hope to be. Although Alexi wasn't here for long enough, we were all fortunate, in one way or another, to experience Alexis' beautiful soul.
"In lieu of flowers, we are accepting money to help the family with funeral costs as well as any other expenses that may arise during this tough time. The Stafford family are the direct beneficiaries of this account. Thank you for supporting this incredible family, who has touched so many of us."
Here is the complete message as posted by Kelly. "Our hearts are broken and we are still in shock. Our whole lives we dedicated to keeping our child safe from one ingredient, peanuts. On Monday, June 25, our 15-year-old daughter, Alexi Ryann Stafford, while at a friends house, made a fatal choice.
There was an open package of Chips Ahoy cookies, the top flap of the package was pulled back and the packaging was too similar to what we had previously deemed 'safe' to her.
"She ate one cookie of chewy Chips Ahoy thinking it was safe because of the 'red' packaging, only to find out too late that there was an added ingredient... Reese peanut butter cups/chips. She started feeling tingling in her mouth and came straight home. Her condition rapidly deteriorated. She went into Anaphylactic shock, stopped breathing and went unconscious.
"We administered two epi pens while she was conscious and waited on paramedics for what felt like an eternity. She died within 1& 1/2 hour of eating the cookie. As a mother who diligently taught her the ropes of what was okay to ingest and what was not, I feel lost and angry because she knew her limits and was aware of familiar packaging, she knew what 'safe' was.
"A small added indication on the pulled back flap on a familiar red package wasn't enough to call out to her that there was 'peanut product' in the cookies before it was too late. I want to share our story with everyone because we want to spread awareness.
"The company has different colored packaging to indicate chunky, chewy, or regular but NO screaming warnings about such a fatal ingredient to many people. Especially children. It's important to us to spread awareness so that this horrible mistake doesn't happen again."
Chips Ahoy’s parent company, Mondelēz International, told PEOPLE that they were “very saddened to hear about this situation,” adding that they learned of it after Kellie’s Facebook post spread on social media.
“We take allergies very seriously and all of our products are clearly labeled on the information panel of the packaging for the major food allergens in the U.S. … Across our Chips Ahoy! portfolio, packaging color is a cue for product texture (i.e., Chewy, Chunky, Original) and is not indicative of the presence of allergens. On packaging for Chips Ahoy! made with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, branding and flavor are prominently depicted in both words and visuals on the front and side panels.”
“We always encourage consumers to read the packaging labeling when purchasing and consuming any of our products for information about product ingredients, including presence of allergens.”